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Lawrenceville art event prepares for spring exhibition

By Sarah Smith

Point Park News Service

Pittsburgh artists Elizabeth Rura(left) and Kirsten Ervin are respected artists that will take part in this year’s Art All Night.

Organizers for the Lawrenceville Art All Night show are encouraging a new realm of artists to submit all types of artwork to the free, 24-hour event.

Artwork will also be available for bid and purchase to anyone who is looking for new and local artwork.

The annual event brings in thousands of pieces of artwork each year as well as plenty of entertainment including bands, performers, and children’s activities.

“It’s a great place for local artists to get their artwork seen,” said Jenn Bechak who teaches sculpture, drawing, and print-making at Community College of Allegheny County and who volunteers for Art All Night.

One of Lawrenceville’s most popular art events began with an all-volunteer committee whose goal was to showcase local artists’ work and shine a spotlight on the Lawrenceville community. Over the years, the event has brought in more extensive crowds and over 1,000 pieces of artwork are submitted each year.

Kair Purvis, who has been volunteering at Art All Night for about five years and has been on the planning committee for two, said she loves the excitement the show brings.

“There are so many people who get involved; we have core volunteers and then the day of the show we have probably over 100 people helping out,” said Purvis.

The venue for the show changes each year. Currently, the committee has not chosen this year’s location, but they try to find a space large enough in Lawrenceville that is willing to rent. The past two years it was held at the former Iron City Brewery.

Art All Night is a way to promote creative and artistic expressions while avoiding advertising and censorship.

“The creativity in this city’s great. It’s amazing to see how many local artists are out there and who come together for this show,” said Purvis.

“Every year I hope to submit a piece and I usually end up getting wrapped up in organizing and not enough time on the pieces I inspire to put in,” said Marisa Golden Janssen who is co-coordinator of Art All Night’s check out and registration services.

Janssen first heard about Art All Night when her college professor suggested her class go to the event and even submit a piece for the show. Janssen, who studied graphic and web design at La Roche College decided to check it out and has been volunteering ever since.

The day of the show, volunteers spend their time organizing, setting up, hanging artwork, providing food and drinks, and cleaning, but the hard work pays off.

Each artist can submit one piece of artwork from any area of art. In addition to seeing the different pieces of art, the show offers live entertainment such as bands, performers, caricaturists, and poetry. They also provide a wide variety of children’s activities to accommodate all ages.

“Last year we ended up with three stages which switched every half hour so we had a lot of different entertainment. And it’s not just band music, we had belly dancers and acoustics last year too,” said Janssen.

One of the favorite attractions at Art All Night is the “LIVE collaborative artists” where two artists can work on a piece together at the show.

“I match up two artists beforehand, that way they can call each other if they want to plan a piece, otherwise, they get to experience a whole different way of making art along with someone else’s ideas,” said Bechak.

Bechak also said that this year she wants to have people bid on the artists’ pieces as they’re painting them to ramp up the excitement. People viewing the artwork can bid on the pieces and sometimes this incites job offers.

“There’s been a few people I’ve seen who received job offers right there at the show,” Bechak said.

The tough part for the planning committee though, is receiving enough donations to rent a building and finding one with accessible lighting and electricity.

“People don’t want to donate unless it promotes their name, but this gives us the freedom to do what we want,” Purvis said.

The show does have people who donate, but they try to avoid advertising and stay as noncommercial as possible. Many people enjoy the freedom of having an uncensored show where they can express themselves.

Purvis sums up just what Art All Night is really about, “If you think it’s art, we think it’s art.”


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